For some months, reports of ritual killings and yahoo (also known as cyber fraud) in Nigeria have defaced the pages of the national dailies and social media timelines. As one tries to come to terms with the reality of grave injustice done to fellow humans, more unfathomable reports spring up. These malicious acts, especially ritual killings, did not start today, they have been in existence for decades. While some people believe that in recent times, the rate of the crimes has escalated, others are of the opinion that nothing has changed over the years, emphasising the contribution of the media in making the crimes bare.
Ritual killings can come in the form of human sacrifice, laceration and harvesting of vital body parts which are afterwards taken to a spiritualist (native doctor) on whose instructions the act is done. Sometimes, the victims are alive while their organs are being harvested making them see hell before giving up the ghost. Other times, life is snuffed out from them before the cutting process begins. When the needed organs have been dismembered from the body, the culprits discard or bury the carcass in shallow graves. The aim of ritual killing is often to become wealthy.
Yahoo, on the other hand, has become another ubiquitous get-rich-quick venture. The fraudsters obtain money from people through cheating, falsification, forgery, pretense or impersonation. Notably, since these doom (ritual killings and yahoo) befell mankind, young people are recruited and trained on how to murder and scam innocent people in the quest for quick money. For ritualists, anyone can be a victim while the yahoo boys specifically target the outside world.
In January 2022, an Imo woman, Mrs Mbachu, was stabbed multiple times by her own son. He had wanted to use his mother for ritual, hence the attempt to take her life. Mrs Mbachu was fortunate that the neighbours heard her screaming in pain as the knife lacerated her skin. She was rescued alive. One would wonder, ‘is blood not thicker than water anymore?’ Why would a young man raise a knife and stab the woman whose womb birthed him, and at whose mammalian glands he suckled? Possibly, the quest for quick money has emboldened his heart, veiled his eyes and stopped his ears from hearing the wails of his mother. Where then is the conscience which serves as a watchdog to everyman?
Jennifer Anthony, a 300-level student of the University of Jos (UNIJOS) was not that lucky.The lifeless body of the 20-year-old was found mutilated on January 1, at a guest house in Jos.Her supposed boyfriend lured her to the hotel where he drugged, killed, plucked out her eyeballs and other vital body parts. He then disappeared with virtually everything that could implicate him, including the lady’s phone and bag. Unknown to him, Jennifer had earlier notified her girlfriend of her whereabouts and the youngman she went out with. It was that friend who traced her to the hotel and discovered her in a pool of her own blood, while the eyes and other organs were missing.
Doom is apparent when teeanages abandon education and venture into learning yahoo. Last month, three teenagers (aged 14, 15 and 16) from Delta State moved to Edo State with the consent of their parents to learn cyber fraud. According to them, they wanted to learn how to ‘press’.
Bear in mind that not all gory tales make it to pages of the newspapers. Some are yet to be uncovered.
In Africa, it is believed that one who kills another has soiled his hands in blood. In the same vein, both Christianity and Islam frown at ritual killing. When Cain killed his brother Abel, he became cursed. The Igbo man would say, ‘onye gburu nwanne ya, a bughi odogwu’ (one who kills his brother is not a hero). So however you look at it, ritual killing is atrocious.
It is sad that ritualists and kidnappers are gradually recruiting children and teenagers in their businesses. Not long ago, a boy of about twelve years was caught in Anambra dragging a little boy of six to Nkisi – a stream located at Onitsha, the commercial hub of the state. According to him, a certain man usually came from across the stream to buy children from him at the rate of fifteen thousand naira each. That afternoon, he met his waterloo; as he dragged the little boy of six,the latter was adamant and kept crying. A woman saw them and intervened. When the twelve-year old told the woman that the six-year-old was his younger brother, the latter objected. This raised suspicions and as the woman raised an alarm, people gathered. The twelve-year-old then confessed how he and his accomplice had already sold five children to the unknown man who paid fifteen thousand naira in exchange for each child. Now imagine what these children will grow up to be, if nothing is done.
In waging war against this abnormally, all hands must be on deck. Parents, guardians, teachers and neighbours must keep an eye on every growing child. It is appalling that Africans are losing their values. An Igbo adage would say ‘ofu onye adighi azu nwa (one person does not raise a child). In the old African setting, raising children is not left for the parents alone, the community raises a child. When a child is going astray, anyone in the community is expected to call that child to order. The African proverb, an old man does not stay at home and watch a goat give birth while tied to a stake is also applicable here. This is a clarion call to everyone, to rise and nip this brewing disaster in the bud.
As the society brings its own contributions, the greatest roles lie on the parents, because the home is the bedrock of society. The home is where children are nurtured and values inculcated. Therefore, parents should keep watchful eyes on their children, from what they watch, listen to and who their friends are. Anyone who is more interested in making money, than creating time to groom children is not fit to be called a parent. Parenting is beyond procreating, provision of basic amenities and quality education. Parents should create time for their children and remind them daily of the benefits of imbibing good values. The children should be taught that there is no shortcut to success. Hardwork is the only sure way.
Values keep dwindling when parents fuel their children to become like their mates who have made money, illegitimate way notwithstanding. These parents should stop the comparison because every child’s journey is different. The wrong push from some parents has made some young people venture into ritual killings and yahoo. They would rather get rich quick or die trying. In the end the calamity falls on the society; kidnap rate increases, mayhem is unleashed and mortality rates heighten. The festering insecurity in Nigeria is apparently the highest since the history of the country.
Nollywood has a great part to play too. Children learn from what they see. Therefore, if these children believe that one can become rich through killing another, they are likely going tow that path. Commendably, the Federal Government has banned movies about ritual killings. However, it doesn’t end there. As literature mirrors the society, Nollywood script writers are encouraged to do their homework and come up with stories that will positively affect the society and push the country forward.
The government is advised to use her power to identify ritual homes disguised as traditional religious temples. Although everyone has a right to freedom of religion, ritual homes have derailed from religious practices and have become a threat to human lives. Although the old African traditional religion condoned ritual killing, such barbarous practices have no place in modern society where the sanctity of human life is upheld in statute books. The government should arrest the native doctors performing the rites and punish them as the law of the country demands.
Same goes to fake prayer houses which are ritual altars in disguise. Thorough investigations should be carried out and culprits should be mercilessly punished as the law demands.
Interestingly, the social media has become a show ground for wealth and affluence. Nigerian celebrities on Instagram are urged to lessen the manner in which they show off affluence. As much as this isn’t a justification for ritual killings and yahoo, it has a way of making young people feel they are underachieving. Since everyone is rich and influential on social media, the youths begin to think that they are not doing enough in their capacity. This would make the insecure ones venture into the ritual path to meet up with what they see.
Nevertheless, Nigerian youths should not be pressured by what they see on social media because most times, the affluence is nothing but a mirage. If there should be any pressure, it should come from within and not from celebrities or agemates.
Currently, the Nigerian society is bedeviled with young people who have lost interest in education. ‘School na scam’ has become a new slogan. The government should rise up and act swiftly. Especially now that the society is gradually evolving into a place where the sacredness of human life has been reduced to nothing. This nefarious act has painted an awful image of Nigeria in the eyes of the outside world and if care is not taken, the bugaboo will destroy what is left of the country.
Government should do their bid in creating jobs for the youths or supporting budding businesses. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If the youths are engaged, crime rate will decrease. The injustice on the poor is grave. Why would a graduate be denied a job because of NYSC discharge certificate while the leaders don’t have it? Even with the certificate, getting a salary of fifty thousand naira becomes a wild goose chase. At this time, some states are yet to implement the thirty thousand naira (N30,000) minimum wage despite the high cost of living. This leads to frustration, pushing the young people to do the unthinkable in order to survive.
In all, ritual killings and yahoo have smeared the reputation of Nigeria. It is an aberration that should be nipped in the bud. Young people should understand that ill-gotten wealth is ephemeral, it steals peace and makes life worthless. There should be a total overhaul of mindset, else posterity will do worse. Anyone who desires to make money needs to model after the world richest people and understand that wealth does not come abruptly. If people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Dangote could make it without delving into ritual killings or yahoo, anybody can. Their stories have one voice – hardwork is the only true way to genuine wealth.